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POCKET GUIDE FOR

ASTHMA MANAGEMENT
AND PREVENTION
(for Adults and Children Older than 5 Years)

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A Pocket Guide for Health Professionals


Updated 2017

BASED ON THE GLOBAL STRATEGY FOR ASTHMA


MANAGEMENT AND PREVENTION

Global Initiative for Asthma


GLOBAL INITIATIVE

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FOR ASTHMA

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POCKET GUIDE FOR HEALTH PROFESSIONALS
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Updated 2017
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GINA Board of Directors


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Chair: Sren Pedersen, MD


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GINA Science Committee


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Chair: Helen Reddel, MBBS PhD


GINA Dissemination and Implementation Committee
Chair: Louis-Philippe Boulet, MD
GINA Assembly
The GINA Assembly includes members from 45 countries, listed on the
GINA website www.ginasthma.org.
GINA Program Director
Rebecca Decker, BS, MSJ

Names of members of the GINA Committees are listed on page 28.

1
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface ............................................................................................................3
What is known about asthma? .........................................................................4
Making the diagnosis of asthma ......................................................................5
Criteria for making the diagnosis of asthma ................................................6
Diagnosing asthma in special populations ..................................................7
Assessing a patient with asthma......................................................................8
How to assess asthma control ....................................................................9
How to investigate uncontrolled asthma.................................................... 10
Management of asthma ................................................................................. 11
General principles ..................................................................................... 11
Treating to control symptoms and minimize risk ....................................... 11
Control-based asthma management ......................................................... 12
Initial controller treatment .......................................................................... 13

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Stepwise approach for adjusting treatment ............................................... 16

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Reviewing response and adjusting treatment ........................................... 17

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Inhaler skills and adherence ..................................................................... 18

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Treating modifiable risk factors ................................................................. 19
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Non-pharmacological strategies and interventions ................................... 19
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Treatment in special populations or contexts ............................................ 20


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Asthma flare-ups (exacerbations) .................................................................. 21


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Written asthma action plans ...................................................................... 22


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Managing exacerbations in primary or acute care .................................... 23


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Reviewing response .................................................................................. 23


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Follow-up after an exacerbation ................................................................ 25


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Glossary of asthma medication classes ......................................................... 26


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Acknowledgements ........................................................................................ 28
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GINA publications .......................................................................................... 28


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TABLE OF FIGURES
Box 1. Diagnostic flow-chart for asthma in clinical practice..............................5
Box 2. Features used in making the diagnosis of asthma ................................6
Box 3. How to assess a patient with asthma....................................................8
Box 4. Assessment of symptom control and future risk ...................................9
Box 5. How to investigate uncontrolled asthma in primary care..................... 10
Box 6. The control-based asthma management cycle ................................... 12
Box 7. Stepwise approach to asthma treatment ............................................ 14
Box 8. Low, medium and high daily doses of inhaled corticosteroids (mcg) .. 14
Box 9. Self-management with a written action plan ....................................... 22
Box 10. Management of asthma exacerbations in primary care .................... 24

Abbreviations used in this Pocket Guide are found on page 27.

2
PREFACE
Asthma affects an estimated 300 million individuals worldwide. It is a serious
global health problem affecting all age groups, with increasing prevalence in
many developing countries, rising treatment costs, and a rising burden for
patients and the community. Asthma still imposes an unacceptable burden on
health care systems, and on society through loss of productivity in the
workplace and, especially for pediatric asthma, disruption to the family, and it
still contributes to many deaths worldwide, including amongst young people.
Health care providers managing asthma face different issues around the
world, depending on the local context, the health system, and access to
resources.
The Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) was established to increase
awareness about asthma among health professionals, public health

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authorities and the community, and to improve prevention and management

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through a coordinated worldwide effort. GINA prepares scientific reports on

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asthma, encourages dissemination and implementation of the
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recommendations, and promotes international collaboration on asthma
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research.
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The Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention was


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extensively revised in 2014 to provide a comprehensive and integrated


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approach to asthma management that can be adapted for local conditions


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and for individual patients. It focuses not only on the existing strong evidence
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base, but also on clarity of language and on providing tools for feasible
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implementation in clinical practice. The report has been updated each year
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since then.
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The GINA 2017 report and other GINA publications listed on page 28 can be
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obtained from www.ginasthma.org.


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The reader acknowledges that this Pocket Guide is a brief summary of the
GINA 2017 report, for primary health care providers. It does NOT contain all
of the information required for managing asthma, for example, about safety of
treatments, and it should be used in conjunction with the full GINA 2017
report and with the health professionals own clinical judgment. GINA cannot
be held liable or responsible for inappropriate healthcare associated with the
use of this document, including any use which is not in accordance with
applicable local or national regulations or guidelines.

3
WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT ASTHMA?
Asthma is a common and potentially serious chronic disease that
imposes a substantial burden on patients, their families and the community. It
causes respiratory symptoms, limitation of activity, and flare-ups (attacks) that
sometimes require urgent health care and may be fatal.
Fortunatelyasthma can be effectively treated, and most patients can
achieve good control of their asthma. When asthma is under good control,
patients can:
Avoid troublesome symptoms during day and night
Need little or no reliever medication
Have productive, physically active lives
Have normal or near normal lung function
Avoid serious asthma flare-ups (exacerbations, or attacks)

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What is asthma? Asthma causes symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of

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breath, chest tightness and cough that vary over time in their occurrence,

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frequency and intensity. R
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These symptoms are associated with variable expiratory airflow, i.e. difficulty
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breathing air out of the lungs due to bronchoconstriction (airway narrowing),


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airway wall thickening, and increased mucus. Some variation in airflow can
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also occur in people without asthma, but it is greater in asthma. There are
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different types of asthma, with different underlying disease processes.


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Factors that may trigger or worsen asthma symptoms include viral


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infections, domestic or occupational allergens (e.g. house dust mite, pollens,


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cockroach), tobacco smoke, exercise and stress. These responses are more
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likely when asthma is uncontrolled. Some drugs can induce or trigger asthma,
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e.g. beta-blockers, and (in some patients), aspirin or other NSAIDs.


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Asthma flare-ups (also called exacerbations or attacks) can be fatal. They


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are more common and more severe when asthma is uncontrolled, or in some
high-risk patients. However, flare-ups may occur even in people taking
asthma treatment, so all patients should have an asthma action plan.
A stepwise approach to treatment, customized to the individual patient,
takes into account the effectiveness of available medications, their safety, and
their cost to the payer or patient.
Regular controller treatment, particularly with inhaled corticosteroid (ICS)-
containing medications, markedly reduces the frequency and severity of
asthma symptoms and the risk of having a flare-up.
Asthma is a common condition, affecting all levels of society. Olympic
athletes, famous leaders and celebrities, and ordinary people live successful
and active lives with asthma.

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MAKING THE DIAGNOSIS OF ASTHMA
Asthma is a disease with many variations (heterogeneous), usually
characterized by chronic airway inflammation. Asthma has two key defining
features:
a history of respiratory symptoms such as wheeze, shortness of breath,
chest tightness and cough that vary over time and in intensity, AND
variable expiratory airflow limitation.

A flow-chart for making the diagnosis in clinical practice is shown in Box 1,


with the specific criteria for diagnosing asthma in Box 2.
Box 1. Diagnostic flow-chart for asthma in clinical practice

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The diagnosis of asthma should be confirmed and, for future reference, the
evidence documented in the patients notes. Depending on clinical urgency
and access to resources, this should preferably be done before starting
controller treatment. Confirming the diagnosis of asthma is more difficult after
treatment has been started (see p7).

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CRITERIA FOR MAKING THE DIAGNOSIS OF ASTHMA
Box 2. Features used in making the diagnosis of asthma
1. A history of variable respiratory symptoms
Typical symptoms are wheeze, shortness of breath, chest tightness, cough
People with asthma generally have more than one of these symptoms
The symptoms occur variably over time and vary in intensity
The symptoms often occur or are worse at night or on waking
Symptoms are often triggered by exercise, laughter, allergens or cold air
Symptoms often occur with or worsen with viral infections
2. Evidence of variable expiratory airflow limitation

At least once during the diagnostic process when FEV1 is low,


document that the FEV1/FVC ratio is reduced. The FEV1/FVC ratio is

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normally more than 0.750.80 in adults, and more than 0.90 in children.

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Document that variation in lung function is greater than in healthy

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people. For example:
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o FEV1 increases by more than 12% and 200mL (in children, >12%
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of the predicted value) after inhaling a bronchodilator. This is


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called bronchodilator reversibility.


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o Average daily diurnal PEF variability* is >10% (in children, >13%)


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o FEV1 increases by more than 12% and 200mL from baseline (in
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children, by >12% of the predicted value) after 4 weeks of anti-


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inflammatory treatment (outside respiratory infections)


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The greater the variation, or the more times excess variation is seen,
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the more confident you can be of the diagnosis of asthma.


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Testing may need to be repeated during symptoms, in the early


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morning, or after withholding bronchodilator medications.


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Bronchodilator reversibility may be absent during severe exacerbations


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or viral infections. If bronchodilator reversibility is not present when it is


first tested, the next step depends on the clinical urgency and
availability of other tests.
For other tests to assist in diagnosis, including bronchial challenge
tests, see Chapter 1 of the GINA 2017 report.
*Calculated from twice daily readings (best of 3 each time), as (the days highest PEF
minus the days lowest PEF) divided by the mean of the days highest and lowest PEF,
and averaged over 1-2 weeks. If using PEF at home or in the office, use the same PEF
meter each time.

Physical examination in people with asthma is often normal, but the most
frequent finding is wheezing on auscultation, especially on forced expiration.

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DIAGNOSING ASTHMA IN SPECIAL POPULATIONS
Patients with cough as the only respiratory symptom
This may be due to chronic upper airway cough syndrome (post-nasal drip),
chronic sinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), vocal cord dysfunction, or
eosinophilic bronchitis, or cough variant asthma. Cough variant asthma is
characterized by cough and airway hyperresponsiveness, and documenting
variability in lung function is essential to make this diagnosis. However, lack of
variability at the time of testing does not exclude asthma. For other diagnostic
tests, see Box 2, and Chapter 1 of the GINA 2017 report, or refer the patient
for specialist opinion.
Occupational asthma and work-aggravated asthma
Every patient with adult-onset asthma should be asked about occupational
exposures, and whether their asthma is better when they are away from work.

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It is important to confirm the diagnosis objectively (which often needs

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specialist referral) and to eliminate exposure as soon as possible.

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Pregnant women D
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Ask all pregnant women and those planning pregnancy about asthma, and
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advise them about the importance of asthma treatment for the health of both
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mother and baby.


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The elderly
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Asthma may be under-diagnosed in the elderly, due to poor perception, an


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assumption that dyspnea is normal in old age, lack of fitness, or reduced


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activity. Asthma may also be over-diagnosed in the elderly through confusion


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with shortness of breath due to left ventricular failure or ischemic heart


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disease. If there is a history of smoking or biomass fuel exposure, COPD or


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asthma-COPD overlap should be considered (see below).


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Smokers and ex-smokers


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Asthma and COPD may co-exist or overlap (asthma-COPD overlap),


particularly in smokers and the elderly. The history and pattern of symptoms
and past records can help to distinguish asthma with fixed airflow limitation
from COPD. Uncertainty in diagnosis should prompt early referral, as asthma-
COPD overlap has worse outcomes than asthma or COPD alone. Asthma-
COPD overlap is not a single disease, but is likely caused by several different
mechanisms. There is little good-quality evidence about how to treat these
patients, as they are often excluded from clinical trials.
Confirming an asthma diagnosis in patients taking controller treatment:
For many patients (2535%) with a diagnosis of asthma in primary care, the
diagnosis cannot be confirmed. If the basis of the diagnosis has not already
been documented, confirmation with objective testing should be sought.

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If standard criteria for asthma (Box 2) are not met, consider other
investigations. For example, if lung function is normal, repeat reversibility
testing after withholding medications for >12 hours. If the patient has frequent
symptoms, consider a trial of step-up in controller treatment and repeat lung
function testing after 3 months. If the patient has few symptoms, consider
stepping down controller treatment; ensure the patient has a written asthma
action plan, monitor them carefully, and repeat lung function testing.

ASSESSING A PATIENT WITH ASTHMA


Take every opportunity to assess patients with a diagnosis of asthma,
particularly when they are symptomatic or after a recent exacerbation, but
also when they ask for a prescription refill. In addition, schedule a routine
review at least once a year.
Box 3. How to assess a patient with asthma

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1. Asthma control assess both symptom control and risk factors

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Assess symptom control over the last 4 weeks (Box 4, p9)
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Identify any other risk factors for poor outcomes (Box 4)


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Measure lung function before starting treatment, 36 months later, and


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then periodically, e.g. at least yearly in most patients


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2. Treatment issues
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Record the patients treatment (Box 7, p14), and ask about side-effects
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Watch the patient using their inhaler, to check their technique (p18)
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Have an open empathic discussion about adherence (p18)


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Check that the patient has a written asthma action plan (p22)
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Ask the patient about their attitudes and goals for their asthma
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3. Are there any comorbidities?


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These include rhinitis, rhinosinusitis, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD),


obesity, obstructive sleep apnea, depression and anxiety.
Comorbidities should be identified as they may contribute to respiratory
symptoms and poor quality of life. Their treatment may complicate
asthma management.

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HOW TO ASSESS ASTHMA CONTROL
Asthma control means the extent to which the effects of asthma can be seen
in the patient, or have been reduced or removed by treatment. Asthma control
has two domains: symptom control and risk factors for future poor outcomes.
Questionnaires like Asthma Control Test and Asthma Control Questionnaire
assess only symptom control.
Poor symptom control is a burden to patients and a risk factor for flare-ups.
Risk factors are factors that increase the patients future risk of having
exacerbations (flare-ups), loss of lung function, or medication side-effects.
Box 4. Assessment of symptom control and future risk
A. Level of asthma symptom control

In the past 4 weeks, has the patient had: Well Partly Uncontrolled

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controlled controlled

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Daytime symptoms more than twice/week? Yes No

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Any night waking due to asthma? Yes No None 12 34
Yes No of these IS of these of these
Reliever needed* more than twice/week? D
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Any activity limitation due to asthma? Yes No


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B. Risk factors for poor asthma outcomes


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Assess risk factors at diagnosis and periodically, at least every 1-2 years, particularly for
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patients experiencing exacerbations.


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personal best lung function, then periodically for ongoing risk assessment.
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Potentially modifiable independent risk factors for exacerbations include:


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Uncontrolled asthma symptoms (as above)


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ICS not prescribed; poor ICS adherence; incorrect inhaler technique


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High SABA use (with increased mortality if >1x200-dose canister/month) Having one or more
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Low FEV1, especially if <60% predicted


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of these risk factors


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Major psychological or socioeconomic problems increases the risk of


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Exposures: smoking; allergen exposure if sensitized


exacerbations even
Comorbidities: obesity; rhinosinusitis; confirmed food allergy
if symptoms are well
Sputum or blood eosinophilia; elevated FENO in allergic adults
Pregnancy controlled.
Other major independent risk factors for flare-ups (exacerbations) include:
Ever being intubated or in intensive care for asthma
Having 1 or more severe exacerbations in the last 12 months.
Risk factors for developing fixed airflow limitation include lack of ICS treatment; exposure to tobacco
smoke, noxious chemicals or occupational exposures; low FEV1; chronic mucus hypersecretion; and
sputum or blood eosinophilia
Risk factors for medication side-effects include:
Systemic: frequent OCS; long-term, high dose and/or potent ICS; also taking P450 inhibitors
Local: high-dose or potent ICS; poor inhaler technique

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What is the role of lung function in monitoring asthma?

Once asthma has been diagnosed, lung function is most useful as an


indicator of future risk. It should be recorded at diagnosis, 36 months after
starting treatment, and periodically thereafter. Most patients should have lung
function measured at least every 1-2 years, more often in children and those
at higher risk of flare-ups or lung function decline. Patients who have either
few or many symptoms relative to their lung function need more investigation.
How is asthma severity assessed?

Asthma severity can be assessed retrospectively from the level of treatment


(p14) required to control symptoms and exacerbations. Mild asthma is asthma
that can be controlled with Step 1 or 2 treatment. Severe asthma is asthma
that requires Step 4 or 5 treatment, to maintain symptom control. It may
appear similar to asthma that is uncontrolled due to lack of treatment.

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HOW TO INVESTIGATE UNCONTROLLED ASTHMA

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Most patients can achieve good asthma control with regular controller
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treatment, but some patients do not, and further investigation is needed.
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Box 5. How to investigate uncontrolled asthma in primary care


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This flow-chart shows the most common problems first, but the steps can be
carried out in a different order, depending on resources and clinical context.
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MANAGEMENT OF ASTHMA
GENERAL PRINCIPLES
The long-term goals of asthma management are symptom control and
risk reduction. The aim is to reduce the burden to the patient and their risk of
exacerbations, airway damage, and medication side-effects. The patients
own goals regarding their asthma and its treatment should also be identified.
Population-level recommendations about preferred asthma treatments
represent the best treatment for most patients in a population.
Patient-level treatment decisions should take into account any individual
characteristics or phenotype that predict the patients likely response to
treatment, together with the patients preferences, and practical issues such
as inhaler technique, adherence, and cost.

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A partnership between the patient and their health care providers is

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important for effective asthma management. Training health care providers in

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communication skills may lead to increased patient satisfaction, better
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health outcomes, and reduced use of health care resources.
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Health literacy that is, the patients ability to obtain, process and
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understand basic health information to make appropriate health decisions


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should be taken into account in asthma management and education.


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TREATING TO CONTROL SYMPTOMS AND MINIMIZE RISK


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Treatment of asthma for symptom control and risk reduction includes:


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Medications. Every patient with asthma should have a reliever


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medication, and most adults and adolescents with asthma should have a
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controller medication
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Treating modifiable risk factors


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Non-pharmacological therapies and strategies


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Importantly, every patient should also be trained in essential skills and guided
asthma self-management, including:
Asthma information
Inhaler skills (p18)
Adherence (p18)
Written asthma action plan (p22)
Self-monitoring
Regular medical review (p8)

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CONTROL-BASED ASTHMA MANAGEMENT
Asthma treatment is adjusted in a continuous cycle to assess, adjust
treatment and review response. The main components of this cycle are
shown in Box 6.

Box 6. The control-based asthma management cycle

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INITIAL CONTROLLER TREATMENT
For the best outcomes, regular daily controller treatment should be initiated as
soon as possible after the diagnosis of asthma is made, because:
Early treatment with low dose ICS leads to better lung function than if
symptoms have been present for more than 24 years
Patients not taking ICS who experience a severe exacerbation have
lower long-term lung function than those who have started ICS
In occupational asthma, early removal from exposure and early treatment
increase the probability of recovery
Regular low dose ICS is recommended for all patients with a diagnosis of
asthma and any of the following:
Asthma symptoms more than twice a month
Waking due to asthma more than once a month
Any asthma symptoms plus any risk factor(s) for exacerbations

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(e.g. needing OCS for asthma within the last 12 months; low FEV1; ever

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in intensive care unit for asthma)
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Consider starting at a higher step (e.g. medium/high dose ICS, or ICS/LABA)
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if the patient has troublesome asthma symptoms on most days; or is waking


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from asthma once or more a week, especially if there are any risk factors for
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exacerbations. Step down after asthma has been well-controlled for 3 months.
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If the initial asthma presentation is with severely uncontrolled asthma, or with


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an acute exacerbation, give a short course of OCS and start regular controller
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treatment (e.g. high dose ICS, or medium dose ICS/LABA).


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Low, medium and high dose categories for different ICS medications are
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shown in Box 8 (p14).


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Before starting initial controller treatment


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Record evidence for the diagnosis of asthma, if possible


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Document symptom control and risk factors


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Assess lung function, when possible


Train the patient to use the inhaler correctly, and check their technique
Schedule a follow-up visit
After starting initial controller treatment
Review response after 23 months, or according to clinical urgency
See Box 7 for ongoing treatment and other key management issues
Consider step down when asthma has been well-controlled for 3 months

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Box 7. Stepwise approach to asthma treatment

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*Not for children <12 years. **For children 611 years, the preferred Step 3 treatment is medium dose ICS. # Low dose ICS/formoterol is the
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reliever medication for patients prescribed low dose budesonide/formoterol or low dose beclometasone/formoterol for maintenance and reliever
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therapy. Tiotropium by mist inhaler is an add-on treatment for patients with a history of exacerbations*.
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For medication Glossary, see p26. For details about treatment recommendations, supporting evidence, and clinical advice about
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implementation in different populations see the full GINA 2017 report (www.ginasthma.org).
Box 8. Low, medium and high daily doses of inhaled corticosteroids (mcg)
Inhaled corticosteroid Adults and adolescents Children 611 years
Low Medium High Low Medium High
Beclometasone dipropionate (CFC)* 200500 >5001000 >1000 100200 >200400 >400
Beclometasone dipropionate (HFA) 100200 >200400 >400 50-100 >100-200 >200
Budesonide (DPI) 200400 >400800 >800 100200 >200400 >400
Budesonide (nebules) 250500 >5001000 >1000
Ciclesonide (HFA) 80160 >160320 >320 80 >80-160 >160
Fluticasone furoate (DPI) 100 n.a. 200 n.a. n.a. n.a.
Fluticasone propionate( DPI) 100250 >250500 >500 100200 >200400 >400
Fluticasone propionate (HFA) 100250 >250500 >500 100200 >200500 >500
Mometasone furoate 110220 >220440 >440 110 220<440 440
Triamcinolone acetonide 4001000 >10002000 >2000 400800 >8001200 >1200
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CFC: chlorofluorocarbon propellant; DPI: dry powder inhaler; HFA: hydrofluoroalkane propellant. *Included for comparison with older literature.
STEPWISE APPROACH FOR ADJUSTING TREATMENT
Once asthma treatment has been started, ongoing decisions are based on a
cycle (p.12) to assess, adjust treatment and review response. The preferred
treatments at each step are summarized below and in Box 7 (p14); for details,
see full GINA 2017 report. See Box 8 (p14) for ICS dose categories.
STEP 1: As-needed SABA with no controller This is indicated only if
symptoms are rare, there is no night waking due to asthma, no
exacerbations in the last year, and normal FEV1.
Other options: regular low dose ICS for patients with exacerbation risks.
STEP 2: Regular low dose ICS plus as-needed SABA
Other options: LTRA are less effective than ICS; ICS/LABA leads to faster
improvement in symptoms and FEV1 than ICS alone but is more expensive
and the exacerbation rate is similar. For purely seasonal allergic asthma,

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start ICS immediately and cease 4 weeks after end of exposure.

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STEP 3: Low dose ICS/LABA either as maintenance treatment plus as-
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needed SABA, or as ICS/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy
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For patients with 1 exacerbation in the last year, low dose BDP/formoterol
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or BUD/formoterol maintenance and reliever strategy is more effective than


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maintenance ICS/LABA with as-needed SABA.


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Other options: Medium dose ICS; for adult patients with rhinitis and allergic
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to house dust mite (HDM) with exacerbations despite ICS, consider adding
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sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT), provided FEV1 is >70% predicted.


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Children (611 years): Medium dose ICS. Other options: low dose
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ICS/LABA
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STEP 4: Low dose ICS/formoterol maintenance and reliever therapy, or


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medium dose ICS/LABA as maintenance plus as-needed SABA


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Other options: Add-on tiotropium by mist inhaler for patients 12 years with
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a history of exacerbations; high dose ICS/LABA, but more side-effects and


little extra benefit; extra controller, e.g. LTRA or slow-release theophylline
(adults); for adult patients with rhinitis and allergic to HDM with
exacerbations despite ICS, consider adding SLIT, provided FEV1 is >70%
predicted.
Children (611 years): Refer for expert assessment and advice.
STEP 5: Refer for expert investigation and add-on treatment
Add-on treatments include tiotropium by mist inhaler for patients with a
history of exacerbations (age 12 years), anti-IgE (omalizumab) for severe
allergic asthma 6 years, and anti-IL5 (SC mepolizumab or IV reslizumab)
for severe eosinophilic asthma (age 12 years). Sputum-guided treatment, if
available, improves outcomes.
Other options: Some patients may benefit from low dose OCS but long-term
systemic side-effects commonly occur.

16
REVIEWING RESPONSE AND ADJUSTING TREATMENT
How often should patients with asthma be reviewed?

Patients should preferably be seen 13 months after starting treatment and


every 312 months after that, except in pregnancy when they should be
reviewed every 46 weeks. After an exacerbation, a review visit within 1 week
should be scheduled. The frequency of review depends on the patients initial
level of control, their response to previous treatment, and their ability and
willingness to engage in self-management with an action plan.
Stepping up asthma treatment

Asthma is a variable condition, and periodic adjustment of controller treatment


by the clinician and/or patient may be needed.
Sustained step-up (for at least 23 months): if symptoms and/or

TE
exacerbations persist despite 23 months of controller treatment, assess

U
the following common issues before considering a step-up

IB
TR
o Incorrect inhaler technique
IS
o Poor adherence D
R
O

o Modifiable risk factors, e.g. smoking


PY

o Are symptoms due to comorbid conditions, e.g. allergic rhinitis


O
C

Short-term step-up (for 12 weeks) by clinician or by patient with written


T
O

asthma action plan (p22), e.g. during viral infection or allergen exposure
N
O

Day-to-day adjustment by patient for patients prescribed low dose


D
L-

beclometasone/formoterol or budesonide/formoterol as maintenance and


IA
ER

reliever therapy.
AT
M

Stepping down treatment when asthma is well-controlled


D
TE
H

Consider stepping down treatment once good asthma control has been
IG
R

achieved and maintained for 3 months, to find the lowest treatment that
PY

controls both symptoms and exacerbations, and minimizes side-effects.


O
C

Choose an appropriate time for step-down (no respiratory infection,


patient not travelling, not pregnant)
Document baseline status (symptom control and lung function), provide a
written asthma action plan, monitor closely, and book a follow-up visit
Step down through available formulations to reduce the ICS dose by
2550% at 23 month intervals (see Box 3-9 in full GINA 2017 report for
details of how to step down different controller treatments)
Do not completely withdraw ICS in adults or adolescents with a diagnosis
of asthma unless this is needed temporarily to confirm the diagnosis of
asthma. Make sure a follow-up appointment is arranged.

17
INHALER SKILLS AND ADHERENCE
Provide skills training for effective use of inhaler devices
Most patients (up to 80%) cannot use their inhaler correctly. This contributes
to poor symptom control and exacerbations. To ensure effective inhaler use:
Choose the most appropriate device for the patient before prescribing:
consider medication, physical problems e.g. arthritis, patient skills, and
cost; for ICS by pressurized metered dose inhaler, prescribe a spacer.
Check inhaler technique at every opportunity. Ask the patient to show
you how they use the inhaler. Check their technique against a device-
specific checklist.
Correct using a physical demonstration, paying attention to incorrect
steps. Check technique again, up to 23 times if necessary.
Confirm that you have checklists for each of the inhalers you prescribe,

TE
and can demonstrate correct technique on them.

U
IB
TR
Information about inhaler devices and techniques for their use can be found

IS
on the GINA website (www.ginasthma.org) and the ADMIT website
D
R
(www.admit-inhalers.org).
O
PY
O

Check and improve adherence with asthma medications


C
T
O

Around 50% of adults and children do not take controller medications as


N
O

prescribed. Poor adherence contributes to poor symptom control and


D

exacerbations. It may be unintentional (e.g. forgetfulness, cost,


L-
IA

misunderstandings) and/or non-intentional (e.g. not perceiving the need for


ER
AT

treatment, fear of side-effects, cultural issues, cost).


M
D

To identify patients with adherence problems:


TE

Ask an empathic question, e.g. Most patients dont take their inhaler
H
IG

exactly as prescribed. In the last 4 weeks, how many days a week have
R
PY

you been taking it? 0 days a week, or 1, or 2 days [etc]?, or Do you find
O
C

it easier to remember your inhaler in the morning or night?


Check medication usage, from prescription date, inhaler date/dose
counter, dispensing records
Ask about attitudes and beliefs about asthma and medications
Only a few adherence interventions have been studied closely in asthma and
have improved adherence in real-world studies.
Shared decision-making for medication and dose choice
Inhaler reminders for missed doses
Comprehensive asthma education with home visits by asthma nurses
Clinicians reviewing feedback on their patients dispensing records
An automated voice recognition program with telephone messages
triggered when refills were due or overdue

18
TREATING MODIFIABLE RISK FACTORS
Exacerbation risk can be minimized by optimizing asthma medications, and
by identifying and treating modifiable risk factors. Some examples of risk
modifiers with consistent high quality evidence are:
Guided self-management: self-monitoring of symptoms and/or PEF, a
written asthma action plan (p22), and regular medical review
Use of a regimen that minimizes exacerbations: prescribe an ICS-
containing controller. For patients with 1 or more exacerbations in the last
year, consider a low dose ICS/formoterol maintenance and reliever
regimen
Avoidance of exposure to tobacco smoke
Confirmed food allergy: appropriate food avoidance; ensure availability
of injectable epinephrine for anaphylaxis
For patients with severe asthma: refer to a specialist center, if

TE
U
available, for consideration of add-on medications and/or sputum-guided

IB
TR
treatment.
IS
D
NON-PHARMACOLOGICAL STRATEGIES AND INTERVENTIONS
R
O
PY

In addition to medications, other therapies and strategies may be considered


O
C

where relevant, to assist in symptom control and risk reduction. Some


T
O

examples with consistent high quality evidence are:


N
O
D

Smoking cessation advice: at every visit, strongly encourage smokers to


L-
IA

quit. Provide access to counselling and resources. Advise parents and


ER

carers to exclude smoking in rooms/cars used by children with asthma


AT

Physical activity: encourage people with asthma to engage in regular


M
D
TE

physical activity because of its general health benefits. Provide advice


H
IG

about management of exercise-induced bronchoconstriction.


R

Occupational asthma: ask all patients with adult-onset asthma about their
PY
O

work history. Identify and remove occupational sensitizers as soon as


C

possible. Refer patients for expert advice, if available.


NSAIDs including aspirin: always ask about asthma before prescribing.

Although allergens may contribute to asthma symptoms in sensitized patients,


allergen avoidance is not recommended as a general strategy for asthma.
These strategies are often complex and expensive, and there are no validated
methods for identifying those who are likely to benefit.
Some common triggers for asthma symptoms (e.g. exercise, laughter) should
not be avoided, and others (e.g. viral respiratory infections, stress) are
difficult to avoid and should be managed when they occur.

19
TREATMENT IN SPECIAL POPULATIONS OR CONTEXTS
Pregnancy: asthma control often changes during pregnancy. For baby and
mother, the advantages of actively treating asthma markedly outweigh any
potential risks of usual controller and reliever medications. Down-titration has
a low priority in pregnancy. Exacerbations should be treated aggressively.
Rhinitis and sinusitis often coexist with asthma. Chronic rhinosinusitis is
associated with more severe asthma. Treatment of allergic rhinitis or chronic
rhinosinusitis reduces nasal symptoms but does not improve asthma control.
Obesity: to avoid over- or under-treatment, it is important to document the
diagnosis of asthma in the obese. Asthma is more difficult to control in
obesity. Weight reduction should be included in the treatment plan for obese
patients with asthma; even 510% weight loss can improve asthma control.
The elderly: comorbidities and their treatment should be considered and may

TE
U
complicate asthma management. Factors such as arthritis, eyesight,

IB
TR
inspiratory flow, and complexity of treatment regimens should be considered

IS
when choosing medications and inhaler devices. D
R
O

Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) is commonly seen in asthma.


PY
O

Symptomatic reflux should be treated for its general health benefits, but there
C
T

is no benefit from treating asymptomatic reflux in asthma.


O
N
O

Anxiety and depression: these are commonly seen in people with asthma,
D
L-

and are associated with worse symptoms and quality of life. Patients should
IA
ER

be assisted to distinguish between symptoms of anxiety and of asthma.


AT
M

Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD): a history of exacerbation


D
TE

following ingestion of aspirin or other NSAIDs is highly suggestive. Patients


H
IG

often have severe asthma and nasal polyposis. Confirmation of the diagnosis
R

of AERD requires challenge in a specialized center with cardiopulmonary


PY
O

resuscitation facilities, but avoidance of NSAIDs may be recommended on the


C

basis of a clear history. ICS are the mainstay of treatment, but OCS may be
required; LTRA may also be useful. Desensitization under specialist care is
sometimes effective.
Food allergy and anaphylaxis: food allergy is rarely a trigger for asthma
symptoms. It must be assessed with specialist testing. Confirmed food allergy
is a risk factor for asthma-related death. Good asthma control is essential;
patients should also have an anaphylaxis plan and be trained in appropriate
avoidance strategies and use of injectable epinephrine.
Surgery: whenever possible, good asthma control should be achieved pre-
operatively. Ensure that controller therapy is maintained throughout the peri-
operative period. Patients on long-term high dose ICS, or having more than 2
weeks OCS in the past 6 months, should receive intra-operative
hydrocortisone to reduce the risk of adrenal crisis.
20
ASTHMA FLARE-UPS (EXACERBATIONS)
A flare-up or exacerbation is an acute or sub-acute worsening in symptoms
and lung function from the patients usual status; occasionally it may be the
initial presentation of asthma.
For discussion with patients, the word flare-up is preferred. Episodes,
attacks and acute severe asthma are often used, but they have variable
meanings, particularly for patients.
The management of worsening asthma and exacerbations should be
considered as a continuum, from self-management by the patient with a
written asthma action plan, through to management of more severe
symptoms in primary care, the emergency department and in hospital.
Identifying patients at risk of asthma-related death

TE
These patients should be identified, and flagged for more frequent review.

U
IB
TR
A history of near-fatal asthma requiring intubation and ventilation

IS
D
Hospitalization or emergency care for asthma in last 12 months
R

Not currently using ICS, or poor adherence with ICS


PY

Currently using or recently stopped using OCS (this indicates the severity
O
C

of recent events)
T
O

Over-use of SABAs, especially more than 1 canister/month


O

Lack of a written asthma action plan


L-


IA

History of psychiatric disease or psychosocial problems


ER

Confirmed food allergy in a patient with asthma


AT
M
D
TE
H
IG
R
PY
O
C

21
WRITTEN ASTHMA ACTION PLANS
All patients should be provided with a written asthma action plan appropriate
for their level of asthma control and health literacy, so they know how to
recognize and respond to worsening asthma.
Box 9. Self-management with a written action plan

TE
U
IB
TR
IS
D
R
O

The written asthma action plan should include:


PY

The patients usual asthma medications


O
C

When and how to increase medications, and start OCS


T
O
N

How to access medical care if symptoms fail to respond


O
D
L-

The action plan can be based on symptoms and/or (in adults) PEF. Patients
IA
ER

who deteriorate quickly should be advised to go to an acute care facility or


AT

see their doctor immediately.


M
D
TE

Medication changes for written asthma action plans (see GINA Box 4-2)
H
IG

Increase frequency of inhaled reliever (SABA, or low dose ICS/formoterol if


R
PY

using maintenance and reliever regimen); add spacer for pMDI.


O
C

Increase controller: Rapid increase in ICS component up to max. 2000mcg


BDP equivalent. Options depend on usual controller medication, as follows:
ICS: At least double dose, consider increasing to high dose.
Maintenance ICS/formoterol: Quadruple maintenance ICS/formoterol
dose (to maximum formoterol dose of 72 mcg/day).
Maintenance ICS/salmeterol: Step up at least to higher dose formulation;
consider adding separate ICS inhaler to achieve high ICS dose.
Maintenance and reliever ICS/formoterol: Continue maintenance dose;
increase as-needed ICS/formoterol (maximum formoterol 72 mcg/day).
Oral corticosteroids (preferably morning dosing):
Adults - prednisolone 1mg/kg/day up to 50mg, usually for 57 days.
For children, 12 mg/kg/day up to 40mg, usually for 35 days.
Tapering not needed if treatment has been given for less than 2 weeks.

22
MANAGING EXACERBATIONS IN PRIMARY OR ACUTE CARE
Assess exacerbation severity while starting SABA and oxygen. Assess
dyspnea (e.g. is the patient able to speak sentences, or only words),
respiratory rate, pulse rate, oxygen saturation and lung function (e.g. PEF).
Check for anaphylaxis.
Consider alternative causes of acute breathlessness (e.g. heart failure,
upper airway dysfunction, inhaled foreign body or pulmonary embolism).
Arrange immediate transfer to an acute care facility if there are signs of
severe exacerbation, or to intensive care if the patient is drowsy, confused, or
has a silent chest. For these patients, immediately give inhaled SABA, inhaled
ipratropium bromide, oxygen and systemic corticosteroids.
Start treatment with repeated doses of SABA (usually by pMDI and spacer),
early oral corticosteroids, and controlled flow oxygen if available. Check

TE
U
response of symptoms and saturation frequently, and measure lung function

IB
TR
after 1 hour. Titrate oxygen to maintain saturation of 9395% in adults and
IS
adolescents (9498% in children 612 years). D
R
O

For severe exacerbations, add ipratropium bromide, and consider giving


PY
O

SABA by nebulizer. In acute care facilities, intravenous magnesium sulfate


C
T

may be considered if the patient is not responding to intensive initial


O
N

treatment.
O
D
L-

Do not routinely perform chest X-ray or blood gases, or prescribe antibiotics,


IA
ER

for asthma exacerbations.


AT
M

REVIEWING RESPONSE
D
TE
H

Monitor patients closely and frequently during treatment, and titrate


IG
R

treatment according to response. Transfer the patient to higher level care if


PY

worsening or failing to respond.


O
C

Decide about need for hospitalization based on clinical status,


symptomatic and lung function, response to treatment, recent and past history
of exacerbations, and ability to manage at home.
Before discharge, arrange ongoing treatment. For most patients, prescribe
regular controller therapy (or increase current dose) to reduce the risk of
further exacerbations. Continue increased controller doses for 24 weeks,
and reduce reliever to as-needed. Check inhaler technique and adherence.
Provide an interim written asthma action plan.
Arrange early follow-up after any exacerbation, within 27 days.

Consider referral for specialist advice for patients with an asthma


hospitalization, or repeated emergency department presentations.

23
Box 10. Management of asthma exacerbations in primary care

TE
U
IB
TR
IS
D
R
O
PY
O
C
T
O
N
O
D
L-
IA
ER
AT
M
D
TE
H
IG
R
PY
O
C

O2: oxygen; PEF: peak expiratory flow; SABA: short-acting beta2-agonist (doses are for
salbutamol)

24
FOLLOW-UP AFTER AN EXACERBATION
Exacerbations often represent failures in chronic asthma care, and they
provide opportunities to review the patients asthma management. All
patients must be followed up regularly by a health care provider until
symptoms and lung function return to normal.

Take the opportunity to review:


The patients understanding of the cause of the exacerbation
Modifiable risk factors for exacerbations, e.g. smoking
Understanding of purposes of medications, and inhaler technique skills
Review and revise written asthma action plan

Discuss medication use, as adherence with ICS and OCS may fall to 50%
within a week after discharge.

TE
Comprehensive post-discharge programs that include optimal controller

U
IB
management, inhaler technique, self-monitoring, written asthma action plan

TR
and regular review are cost-effective and are associated with significant
IS
improvement in asthma outcomes. D
R
O
PY

Referral for expert advice should be considered for patients who have been
O

hospitalized for asthma, or who re-present for acute asthma care.


C
T
O
N
O
D
L-
IA
ER
AT
M
D
TE
H
IG
R
PY
O
C

25
GLOSSARY OF ASTHMA MEDICATION CLASSES
For more details, see full GINA 2017 report and Appendix (www.ginasthma.org) and
Product Information from manufacturers.
Medications Action and use Adverse effects
CONTROLLER MEDICATIONS
Inhaled corticosteroids The most effective anti-inflammatory Most patients using ICS do
(ICS) (pMDIs or DPIs) e.g. medications for persistent asthma. ICS not experience side-effects.
beclometasone, reduce symptoms, increase lung function, Local side-effects include
budesonide, ciclesonide, improve quality of life, and reduce the risk of oropharyngeal candidiasis
fluticasone propionate, exacerbations and asthma-related and dysphonia. Use of
fluticasone furoate, hospitalizations or death. ICS differ in their spacer with pMDI, and
mometasone, triamcinolone potency and bioavailability, but most of the rinsing with water and
benefit is seen at low doses (see Box 8 spitting out after inhalation,
(p14) for low, medium and high doses of reduce local side effects.
different ICS). High doses increase the

TE
risk of systemic side-effects.

U
IB
ICS and long-acting beta2 When a medium dose of ICS alone fails to The LABA component may

TR
agonist bronchodilator achieve good control of asthma, the addition be associated with
IS
combinations (ICS/LABA) of LABA to ICS improves symptoms, lung D tachycardia, headache or
R
O

(pMDIs or DPIs) e.g. function and reduces exacerbations in more cramps. Current
PY

beclometasone/formoterol, patients, more rapidly, than doubling the recommendations are that
O
C

budesonide/formoterol, dose of ICS. Two regimens are available: LABA and ICS are safe for
T
O

fluticasone furoate/ maintenance ICS/LABA with SABA as asthma when used in


N

vilanterol, fluticasone reliever, and low-dose combination combination. LABA should


O
D

propionate/formoterol, beclometasone or budesonide with not be used without ICS in


L-
IA

fluticasone propionate/ formoterol for maintenance and reliever asthma due to increased
ER

salmeterol, and treatment. risk of serious adverse


AT

mometasone/formoterol. outcomes.
M
D

Leukotriene modifiers
TE

Target one part of the inflammatory pathway Few side-effects in placebo-


H

(tablets) e.g. montelukast, in asthma. Used as an option for controller controlled studies except
IG
R

pranlukast, zafirlukast, therapy, particularly in children. Used alone: elevated liver function tests
PY

zileuton less effective than low dose ICS; added to with zileuton and zafirlukast.
O
C

ICS: less effective than ICS/LABA.


Chromones (pMDIs or Very limited role in long-term treatment of Side effects are uncommon
DPIs) e.g. sodium asthma. Weak anti-inflammatory effect, less but include cough upon
cromoglycate and effective than low-dose ICS. Require inhalation and pharyngeal
nedocromil sodium meticulous inhaler maintenance. discomfort.
Long-acting An add-on option at Step 4 or 5 by mist Side-effects are uncommon
anticholinergic inhaler for patients 12 years with a history but include dry mouth.
(tiotropium) of exacerbations despite ICS LABA
Anti-IgE (SC omalizumab) An add-on option for patients 6 years with Reactions at the site of
severe allergic asthma uncontrolled on Step injection are common but
4 treatment (high dose ICS/LABA). minor. Anaphylaxis is rare.
Anti-IL5 (SC mepolizumab, An add-on option for patients aged 12 yrs Headache, and reactions at
IV reslizumab) with severe eosinophilic asthma uncontrolled injection site are common
on Step 4 treatment (high dose ICS/LABA) but minor.

26
Medications Action and use Adverse effects
Systemic corticosteroids Short-term treatment (usually 57 days in Short-term use: some
(tablets,suspension or adults) is important in the treatment of adverse effects e.g. sleep
intramuscular (IM) or severe acute exacerbations, with main disturbance, reflux, appetite
intravenous (IV) injection) effects seen after 46 hours. Oral increase, hyperglycaemia,
e.g. prednisone, corticosteroid (OCS) therapy is preferred mood changes.
prednisolone, and is as effective as IM or IV therapy in Long-term use: limited by
methylprednisolone, preventing relapse. Tapering is required if the risk of significant
hydrocortisone treatment given for more than 2 weeks. systemic adverse effects
Long-term treatment with OCS may be e.g. cataract, glaucoma,
required for some patients with severe osteoporosis, adrenal
asthma, but side-effects must be taken into suppression. Patients
account. should be assessed for
osteoporosis risk and
treated appropriately.
RELIEVER MEDICATIONS

TE
Short-acting inhaled

U
Inhaled SABAs are medications of choice for Tremor and tachycardia are

IB
beta2-agonist quick relief of asthma symptoms and commonly reported with

TR
IS
bronchodilators (SABA) bronchoconstriction including in acute D initial use of SABA, but
(pMDIs, DPIs and, rarely, exacerbations, and for pre-treatment of tolerance to these effects
R
O

solution for nebulization or exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. usually develops rapidly.


PY

injection) e.g. salbutamol SABAs should be used only as-needed at Excess use, or poor
O
C

(albuterol), terbutaline. the lowest dose and frequency required. response indicate poor
T
O

asthma control.
N
O

Low-dose ICS/formoterol This is the reliever medication for patients


D

As for ICS/LABA above


L-

(beclometasone/formoterol prescribed maintenance and reliever


IA
ER

or budesonide/formoterol) treatment. It reduces the risk of


AT

exacerbations compared with using prn


M

SABA, with similar symptom control.


D
TE

Short-acting Long-term use: ipratropium is a less Dryness of the mouth or a


H
IG

anticholinergics (pMDIs effective reliever medication than SABAs. bitter taste.


R
PY

or DPIs) e.g. ipratropium Short-term use in acute asthma: inhaled


O

bromide, ipratropium added to SABA reduces the risk


C

oxitropium bromide of hospital admission

Abbreviations used in this pocket guide


BDP Beclometasone dipropionate LAMA Long-acting muscarinic antagonist
BUD Budesonide n.a. Not applicable
DPI Dry powder inhaler O2 Oxygen
FEV1 Forced expiratory volume in 1 OCS Oral corticosteroids
second PEF Peak expiratory flow
FVC Forced vital capacity pMDI Pressurized metered dose inhaler
HDM House dust mite SABA Short-acting beta2-agonists
ICS Inhaled corticosteroids SC Subcutaneous
IV Intravenous SLIT Sublingual immunotherapy
LABA Long-acting beta2-agonists
27
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The activities of the Global Initiative of Asthma are supported by the work of members
of the GINA Board of Directors and Committees (listed below). The members of the
GINA committees are solely responsible for the statements and recommendations
presented in this and other GINA publications.
GINA Board of Directors (2016)
Sren Pedersen, Denmark, Chair; Eric Bateman, South Africa; Louis-Philippe Boulet*,
Canada; Alvaro Cruz*, Brazil; J Mark FitzGerald, Canada; Hiromasa Inoue, Japan;
Mark Levy*, United Kingdom; Jiangtao Lin, China; Paul O'Byrne, Canada; Helen
Reddel, Australia; Stanley Szefler, USA; Arzu Yorgancioglu, Turkey.
GINA Program Director: Rebecca Decker, USA
GINA Science Committee (2016)
Helen Reddel, Australia, Chair; Leonard Bacharier, USA; Eric Bateman, South Africa.;

TE
Allan Becker, Canada; Roland Buhl, Germany; Johan de Jongste, The Netherlands; J.

U
Mark FitzGerald, Canada; Hiromasa Inoue, Japan; Fanny Wai-san Ko, Hong Kong;

IB
TR
Jerry Krishnan, USA; Paul O'Byrne, Canada; Sren Pedersen, Denmark; Emilio

IS
Pizzichini, Brazil; Stanley J. Szefler, USA. D
R
O

GINA Dissemination and Implementation Committee (2015)


PY

Louis-Philippe Boulet, Canada, Chair; other members indicated by asterisks (*) above.
O
C
T

GINA Assembly
O
N

The GINA Assembly includes members from 45 countries. Their names are listed on
O
D

the GINA website, www.ginasthma.org.


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ER

GINA PUBLICATIONS
AT
M

Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention (updated 2017). This
D
TE

report provides an integrated approach to asthma that can be adapted for a wide
H

range of health systems. The report was extensively revised in 2014, and has been
IG
R

updated yearly since then. The report has a user-friendly format with many practical
PY

summary tables and flow-charts for use in clinical practice.


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C

GINA Online Appendix (updated 2017). Detailed information to support the main
GINA report.
Pocket Guide for asthma management and prevention for adults and children
older than 5 years (updated 2017). Summary for primary health care providers, to
be used in conjunction with the main GINA report.
Pocket guide for asthma management and prevention in children 5 years and
younger (updated 2017). A summary of patient care information about pre-schoolers
with asthma or wheeze, to be used in conjunction with the main GINA 2017 report.
Diagnosis of asthma-COPD overlap (updated 2017). This is a stand-alone copy of
the corresponding chapter in the main GINA report. It is co-published by GINA and
GOLD (the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease,
www.goldcopd.org).
Clinical practice aids and implementation tools will be available on the GINA
website.
GINA publications and other resources are available from www.ginasthma.org

28
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IS
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Visit the GINA website at


www.ginasthma.org
2017 Global Initiative for Asthma